The sculptor of what will be a life-sized statue of the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha is ready to begin his work.

That was the word Thursday morning from Tom Caulfield, a member of the Memorial Statue Project Committee, at a committee meeting at the Hiram G. Andrews Center on Goucher Street in Upper Yoder Township.

Caulfield said a detailed scale model – called a maquette – is 99 percent completed by Wayne Hyde of Manns Choice in Bedford County. Hyde was selected last November to erect the Murtha statue.

The sculptor is ready to go to the next phase, which is the life-sized statue, Caulfield said as Thursday’s meeting began. Hyde was not at the meeting.

He did attend a committee meeting held in early February at which time he unveiled the maquette, which generally received a favorable response from  members, including Joyce Murtha, the congressman’s widow.

She was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.

The statue will depict Murtha in a business suit and will be placed near Veterans Park adjacent to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in downtown Johnstown.

Architect Edwin Pawlowski, a committee member, said that Thomas G. Ford, a member of Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension, will assist in the design of the statue grounds, which he said will include walkways and a garden setting.

More detailed information about the statue’s setting is anticipated to be discussed at a committee meeting at 10 a.m. April 5 at the Andrews Center.

Estimated cost of the statue is $150,000. No public money will be used for the project, Caulfield said.

He said at Thursday’s meeting that more than $57,000 has been contributed so far, with many of the donations of $100 or less.

He said that reflects favorably on Mrs. Murtha’s desire that the general public be a part of the statue project.

Funds also are being sought from businesses, nonprofits, foundations, civic groups, veterans groups, labor unions and the like.

Hyde has said the statue is expected to be completed in the fall. The statue will depict Murtha as he looked at the height of his political career.

Veteran Community Initiatives and Conemaugh Valley Veterans are leading the effort to fund the statue.

Murtha was a Marine Corps member and a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Those wishing to donate should make checks payable to Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, 116 Market St., Suite 4, Johnstown, Pa. 15901. Contributions are tax deductible.

Murtha died Feb. 8, 2010, of complications from gall bladder surgery. He was in his 36th year representing the 12th Congressional District.

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